US polls: Gulf media veers towards change


Dubai : As the US goes to vote its 44th president, speculation among the Gulf media on the outcome of the US elections clearly veered to the ‘Change we need’ bandwagon.

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In an editorial headlined ‘So which way America?’ in its Tuesday edition, The Khaleej Times of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) wrote: “The choice this time around is not merely between white and black or between a white, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant candidate and a young, biracial Harvard lawyer whose father was a Kenyan Muslim.”

“The choice is between the two completely different and opposite directions that America will take under either of the two candidates.

“One offers the Americans the same disastrous policies and bumbling leadership that the US and rest of the world have witnessed over the past eight years. From the disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan to the chaos on the Wall Street, Republican presidential candidate John McCain promises more of the same,” the editorial read.

Democratic candidate Barack Obama, on the other hand, offered a completely different refreshing change.

“Obama promises to get out of Iraq as soon as possible and focus on stabilising Afghanistan. He has advocated dialogue with Iran. In his attempts to woo the strong Jewish lobby and counter the fiction that he is a Muslim, he has offered vociferous support to Israel,” the Khaleej Times said.

It, however, stated that Obama should be more even-handed in his dealings with Palestinians and Arabs, “given his moral convictions and his sense of fair play”.

In an editorial headlined ‘US must learn to live with the rest of the world’, Dubai’s other major daily Gulf News said the world badly needed a change from the terrible legacy of President George W. Bush’s presidency.

“Democrat Barack Obama offers such a change, while Republican John McCain offers more of the same, even though he insists that he offers change,” it said.

Stating that the rest of the world will have to live with the decision that the American people will make, the Gulf News said: “Throughout the past eight years the United States has been reminded time and again that it cannot afford to ignore the rest of the world. It does not have the capacity to enforce its will everywhere. After eight years of unilateral action, the United States will have to learn again how to work with the family of nations that make up the entire human race.”

In its editorial, Abu Dhabi’s new daily The National said that if the world could vote in these US elections, it would have been a landslide victory for Obama.

“The misadventure of the invasion of Iraq and the country’s tendency to play schoolyard bully in the war on terror has the world looking for what Mr Obama professes to offer: change,” it said.

“But as Americans go to the polls, it is unlikely that they will be casting their ballots based upon the desires of the rest of the world. They will be voting for the man they believe is best capable of navigating the stormy financial crisis and securing their nation. Fortunately, Americans will be choosing between two capable and honourable men.”

Saudi Arabia’s Arab News daily, in its editorial ‘Bush presidency: Bitter legacy’, said that obituaries will flow thickly in the next two months on Bush’s “wretched two-term presidency”.

“Wracked by economic ills, humiliated by a failed gun-slinging foreign policy and embarrassed by an inept, tongue-tied and unrepentant president, most Americans want to see an end to the Bush administration blundering,” the newspaper said.

“However they vote today, this is their chance to escape one of the most unedifying two-term incumbencies in their country’s history,” it said.

The Peninsula of Qatar, however, stated that despite all polls and projections pointing to an Obama victory, it would all depend on the Democratic candidate’s ability to make inroads in the vast American white working class.

“For sure Obama has made great inroads into African American and young voters, galvanising a new generation of voters into political action. Perhaps Obama’s appearance that he was better equipped to steer the ship of state during these gloomy economic times has appealed to the middle and aspirational classes,” it said.

“What remains to be seen is whether the African American Obama has won over the vast American white working class. It was this male, low income earned blue collar base that gave Hillary Clinton her support during the Democratic primary campaign.”

The US elections are being keenly followed in the Gulf and the ongoing global financial crisis is one of the major reasons for this.

The West has been looking towards the Gulf for its petrodollars as it works on a bailout package.